Buy our new chicken tenders: they won’t rape you like our competitor’s fish sticks might!
It just took me ten seconds to write that, and half of that time was spent looking up whether or not anyone’s ever been raped by a chain restaurant fish stick. And what I’ve just created is what we in the advertising game call a “Rage-portunity”.
As I’ve detailed in the past the purpose of advertising is not to inform or entertain, but to manipulate and illicit a reaction, whether it’s a positive one or not doesn’t matter, all that matters is that you remember it. Because long after you’ve forgotten that I gave you my word that my appetizers were almost entirely rape free, you will still remember the name of Admiral Tasty’s Home for Battered Fish. I don’t think that you’re being constantly manipulated by advertisers preying on your basest human emotions is any big surprise. What I do think is surprising is how it continues to work just as easily today as when the first cave man said of his new line of pointed sticks “Ogg, grog ooh! Ooo! Ah-ah-Ooo!” Provocative to be sure, but he couldn’t be-point sticks fast enough after that feces smeared message appeared on a rock across from the fire.
This little gem apparently appeared on the sky line of South Bend, Indiana a couple weeks ago. They have since been removed after complaints from residents who called the campaign irresponsible and thoughtless. And those people are wrong.
Why do I say that? Is it because I am simply a contrarian, poised at the drop of an opinion to mindlessly, reflexively take up the opposing argument out of a desperate, sad play for attention, any type of which, whether it be positive or negative, I wrongfully translate into “love”, equating the very act of being acknowledged as a confirmation that my existence is not futile and anonymous, that in fact the universe does hear my shouts into the void and that the annoyed groans of those who answer back are the closest thing I will ever experience to an actual inter personal connection with another living being?
You’re stupid and your hair smells dumb.
No, in fact I say this because there was nothing “thoughtless” about this billboard. You don’t put a fifty foot fuck you to 900 corpses in the sky without hundreds of someones looking at it and approving it before it even gets off a note pad. The question comes down to, does it work, and is it worth the investment?
I’ve never been to Indiana personally, and as far as I can tell, Hacienda Mexican Restaurants isn’t a national chain, so I’d never heard of the establishment before. I’ve heard of it now. Plus, I know that their margaritas are so good, you’ll think they’re poison. And after a brief search for rates for a 14′ x 48′ billboard, I couldn’t find how much it might cost to insult the families of 900 dead cult followers, or what exactly one would have to pay to shock and outrage those more easily shockable and outrageous commuters of a small midwestern town. Again though, I imagine the national attention and coverage would certainly have cost quite a bit more.
Now, I don’t want to say that people are predictable and easily manipulated, because you’re so handsome and or beautiful that even attempting to do so would be an insult to your colossal intellect and firm, luscious breasts and or penis. I also don’t have time to show you the exact equation to represent the inverse effect of negative publicity on the volume of cheesed tortilla chips sold, or the precise calculations on the effect of referring to your lightly alcoholed sugar rimmed frosty drink as a “9/11 of flavor” versus a “Holocaust of fruit in your mouth oven”. I have them, but they only exist in glossy color chart form in my office where I teach young ad execs how to easily remove their soul so that they can store all of the money their protested ads will be making them.
“Our role is not to be controversial or even edgy. We want to be noticed…” said the vice president of sales and marketing at Hacienda while trying to stifle a giggle as he thumbed through the wad of cash in his pocket. It’s not hard to shock people today, we’re such an insulated society that continues to pad itself against more and more of the obscene and crude world around it while simultaneously lapping that same smut up with a spoon. Things that were considered common place and ordinary a few short decades ago are now looked at with shock and confusion that any of it was ever allowed to happen without immediately being followed by a flurry of lawsuits detailing how seeing someone do something that had nothing to do with them hurt their feelings ever so much.
But who am I to dismiss a winning formula? It seems arrogant and dishonest of me to believe myself above it all when I so desperately want to draw eyes to this very site. So with that in mind, allow me to introduce my new ad campaign for Van Full of Candy:
Van Full of Candy, it’s what Hitler would laugh at!